Obama lectures USNA grads on morals

Obama lectures USNA grads on morals

May 27, 2013

By Katy Grimes


President Barack Obama gave the commencement speech Friday to the 2013 graduating class of the United States Naval Academy, lecturing them on morals and calling for an end to sexual assaults in the military.

It could have been one of his press conferences.

But this was not an isolated incident.

On Saturday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that they must build a “culture of respect” that would eliminate sexual assaults and harassment in the armed services.


My son graduated the USNA in 2011. We were fortunate to have Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, give the commencement speech that year.  It was a good speech, appropriately full of vision, and inspiration — thankfully, because Annapolis in May is hot and humid, and we were melting in the stadium stands. If Gates had gotten political, the crowd might have turned on him.


Gates said in 2011:

“As you start your careers as leaders today, I would like to offer some brief thoughts on those qualities.  For starters, great leaders must have vision — the ability to get your eyes off your shoelaces at every level of rank and responsibility, and see beyond the day-to-day tasks and problems.  To be able to look beyond tomorrow and discern a world of possibilities and potential.   How do you take any outfit to a higher level of excellence?  You must see what others do not or cannot, and then be prepared to act on your vision.”

“Personal conduct”

Friday, Obama lectured the Midshipmen and women about personal conduct and sexual assault:

“And yet, we must acknowledge that even here, even in our military, we’ve seen how the misconduct of some can have effects that ripple far and wide. In our digital age, a single image from the battlefield of troops falling short of their standards can go viral and endanger our forces and undermine our efforts to achieve security and peace. Likewise, those who commit sexual assault are not only committing a crime, they threaten the trust and discipline that make our military strong. That’s why we have to be determined to stop these crimes, because they’ve got no place in the greatest military on Earth.”

And he strangely complimented civil servants:

“Every day, elected officials like those on this stage, but also all across the nation, devote themselves to improving our communities and our country. But all too often we’ve seen a politics where compromise is rejected as a dirty word, and policies are driven by special interests rather than the national interest. And that breeds a cynicism that threatens our democracy.

“Every day, our civil servants do their jobs with professionalism — protecting our national security and delivering the services that so many Americans expect. But as we’ve seen again in recent days, it only takes the misconduct of a few to further erode the people’s trust in their government. That’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you.”

False reporting?

The “sexual assault problem” in the military is now a trumped up political agenda. The definition of sexual assault was greatly expanded in 2007, and again now, even while simultaneously increasing the role of women in the military.

Most of the media have been inaccurately labeling the results of the military’s recent survey of sexual assaults and “unwanted sexual contact” as “sexual assaults.”

There is a big difference between unwanted touching, and actual sexual assault. The new definition can be interpreted to mean that someone just heavily flirting with someone, or even touching someone’s thigh, waist, or butt, is lumped in with serial rapists.

And, the military now counts the number of complaints, and not actual not convictions.  But many of the more than 3,000 reports last year were found to be baseless.

The Pentagon “uses the term ‘sexual assault’ to address a range of crimes including rape, aggravated sexual assault, wrongful sexual contact, non-consensual sodomy, abusive sexual contact, aggravated sexual contact, and indecent assault. The annual report includes case synopses, case dispositions, and punishments imposed in cases involving unrestricted reports.”

There has also been an active effort by Congress to expand the definition of what a sexual assault is which further inflates the statistics they are currently going around and using to bash the military with:

“For incidents that occurred prior to the changes made to the UCMJ on October 1, 2007, the term “sexual assault” referred to the crimes of rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault, and attempts to commit these acts. For incidents that occurred between October 1, 2007 and June 27, 2012, the term “sexual assault” referred to the crimes of rape, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, wrongful sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, and attempts to commit these acts.
For incidents that occur on or after June 28, 2012, the term “sexual assault” refers to the crimes of rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, abusive sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, and attempts to commit these acts.”

Abusive sexual contact was added to the definition of sexual assault, so people who touch someone’s posterior are now equated with serial rapists.

 Other Presidential commencement speeches

By contrast to Obama’s and Hagel’s political speeches, in 2001, President George Bush gave the commencement speech to the USNA graduating class without lecturing:

“You know by now that life in the Navy and Marine Corps is not glamorous. You will endure long hours of routine, punctuated—at times without warning—by moments of danger, where the stakes for your crew and your country could not be higher. Annapolis has prepared you well for this life. It has strengthened your bodies and sharpened your minds. Most importantly, it has fortified your character with timeless values, honor, courage, and commitment. Through 4 years, your class has sat through many a lecture about the meaning of these values. You don’t need another lecture today. But I do urge you to reflect upon their importance. Reminders of their relevance surround us.”

In 1994,  President Bill Clinton addressed the graduating class of the USNA. He gave a good speech, albeit with some politics in it explaining his recent military cuts:

“… since the time Admiral John Paul Jones proclaimed, ‘Without a respectable Navy, alas, America.’ The right-size defense costs less but still costs quite a bit. That is why this year I have resisted attempts to impose further cuts on our defense budget.

“I want you to understand this clearly. It is important for your generation and your children to bring down this terrible debt we accumulated in recent years. And I have asked the Congress to eliminate outright over 100 programs, to cut over 200 others. We’ve presented a budget that cuts discretionary domestic spending for the first time since 1969. That will give us 3 years of deficit reduction in a row for the first time since Harry Truman was President of the United States right after World War II. But we should not cut defense further. And I thank the Congress this week for resisting the calls to do so. That enables us to answer John Paul Jones’ cry.”

 Obama’s speech Friday continued with his lecture:

“With the time I have left, that’s what I want to discuss today. It’s no secret that in recent decades many Americans have lost confidence in many of the institutions that help shape our society and our democracy. But I suggest to you today that institutions do not fail in a vacuum. Institutions are made up of people, individuals. And we’ve seen how the actions of a few can undermine the integrity of those institutions.

“Every day, men and women of talent and skill work in the financial institutions that fund new businesses, and put new families — put families in new homes and help students go to college. But we’ve also seen how the misdeeds of some — wild risk-taking or putting profits before people — sparked a financial crisis and deepened the recession that cost millions of Americans their jobs.”

Last year, Secretary of defense Leon Panetta, an Obama appointee, gave the USNA commencement speech:

“That is why you came here… for the challenge of leading others at sea; deploying to every part of the world; taking risks in the skies; fighting ferociously ashore; and giving our enemies hell wherever you find them.

“After you leave here, the challenge that I just outlined is exactly what you’ll get.

“And it won’t be easy. You’ll need every quality that got you through the past four years: love of country; the desire to learn; the will to work hard; the will to sacrifice; the judgment to make good decisions; and the drive to overcome any odds.”

As I searched for historical commencement speeches to the Naval Academy, it was clear that the Obama PR machine had done its job making sure the President’s speech and sexual assault lecture resonated. Every page for at least 10 in my Google search linked back to a news story about Obama’s speech.

I was searching for President James Garfield’s speech in 1881, the first commencement speech to the Naval Academy, to no avail. Obama’s 2013 speech is everywhere.

That’s proof of a political agenda demonizing the military for sexual assault.

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